Thinking inside the box in Bruderheim, Alta.

BRUDERHEIM, Alta. — A hotel project in Bruderheim, Alta. is not only answering the call for more hospitality options in the 1,100-person town, but answering it with a modern twist.

By Elaine Anselmi

BRUDERHEIM, Alta. — A hotel project in Bruderheim, Alta. is not only answering the call for more hospitality options in the 1,100-person town, but answering it with a modern twist. A new four-storey, 60-room hotel will operate under the Studio 6 banner and be built entirely out of used shipping crates.

“Down in Australia and South Africa, China, they’ve done these kinds of hotels. I’ve been trying to find a company for the last few years that can do it and I believe Ladacor is the one,” said owner Boris Javorski.

“We get snow here for six months out of the year; I want to be able to build hotels throughout the entire year. If this works out, we’re looking to build three more right off the bat.”

Construction is headed up by Calgary-based Ladacor Ltd., who also pieced together a shipping-container hotel for Days Inn, in Sioux Lookout, Ont. The process involves shipping the steel containers, retrofitted as bedrooms and other spaces, to be connected on site. Both the Days Inn and Studio 6 projects fall under Realstar Hospitality, which franchises both Days Inn and Studio 6 in Canada.

“When they come to Bruderheim and they’re being unloaded, they’re already done in Calgary. There’s already windows in them, they even have the lines for sprinklers, that’s all tied in, the electrical is done,” said Javorski.

“What they do is, once they crate them out to site, they join the pipes and all they have to do on site is landscaping and siding.”

The entire structure will be made up of the seacans, including a full-service elevator, made from a 40-foot container standing up on its side. In general, two rooms and a part of the hallway will use up six containers, Javorski said.

Already owning a hotel in nearby Lamont, Alta., Javorski knew from the existing hotel’s occupancy that there was an economic case for another hotel – something Doug Sullivan, economic development officer for Bruderheim agreed upon fully.

Sullivan was also enthusiastic about the shipping crate concept.

“I’m an engineer by background, so I’m always interested in the new types of things,” said Sullivan. “I think this a new concept that’s coming in – Sea-cans have been used for residential construction for some time now, it just hadn’t come into place in industry.”

The use of seacans is growing in popularity, largely because of the abundance of the steel crates due to high volumes of goods shipped to North America from China.

“They aren’t shipped back to China because it’s too expensive,” said Bruderheim  senior administrative officer Patty Podoborozny. Zoning for the project was approved by town council in June, and she said it is right up their alley.

 “Council is very pro-green and always looking at what do we do to make things better, as good partners in the industrial heartland,” she said.

As well as a way to reuse otherwise abandoned structures, Sullivan said the project is much needed in town.

“With Bruderheim in the middle of the industrial heartland in Alberta, there’s a lot of activity in the heartland,” Sullivan said. 

“Workers don’t really have adequate places to stay. When they do maintenance turnarounds on the big plants, or if they’re doing construction in the area, all of the campgrounds are full, hotels are full and people stay wherever they can.”

Whether temporary workers or visitors to the community for events and gatherings, Podoborozny said people often have to stay in neighbouring towns, Fort Saskatchewan or Lamont. 

“We throw a number of events here in our community for our residents. We’re actually a very active community for that and there’s nowhere to stay,” said Podoborozny.

“If people want to host a hockey tournament or ball hockey, there’s no accommodations.”

Podoborozny also noted the town’s location adjacent to major oil and gas industry development, and the need for suitable amenities.

“A lot of people come here to enjoy food and restaurants and the hotel is a perfect fit for that,” she said.

Sullivan said the project would be targeted at those temporary workers, with each room having a kitchenette and non-carpeted floor. As well, each room is slightly larger and more functional for long-term stays, said Javorski.

Field construction on the site will begin shortly, and Javorski hopes to see the doors open around springtime.